Footsteps: The End of the Whole Mess, Part II

The second part of how I broke up with my ex-girlfriend. I share this not because it's juicy drama, rather it is one of the hardest experiences of my life...yet the first of some many hard choices I would have to make in pursuit of a religious vocation.

It's extremely hard for me to look back at this time of my life. Just adding it here brings back feelings of hopelessness, anger, guilt, selfishness, and other thoughts that I'd rather push out of my head. When leaving everything to my ex-girlfriend, I thought I was being noble. In retrospect, I was trying to pay off my level of guilt. No matter how filled with joy I felt about pursuing a vocation, I'd built up large amounts of guilt about this experience. There are other aspects to this story that come into my head which were not written down; I think it better to keep those things from the Internet.

I'm not proud of the life I used to live, nor is this a means to glorify it. However I often get smiles and praises when I go out wearing my habit. I have people telling how wonderful I am for pursuing a vocation, and how I'll be wonderful. To read the stories of my past serves as a humble reminder that I did very little to get to this point...the credit belongs to a much higher power.

Beware the language. Photo by IDG. -V

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another;" -James Matthew Barrie

If you haven't read part one, I encourage you to do so now.

Part of me thought "She'll be OK with this." Maybe I still thought I was in a great relationship, or maybe I was just blind to what she might do...I honestly thought it wouldn't be a problem. She said she was a Christian woman (despite being an adulterer), so perhaps everything would turn out alright.

After I told my girlfriend about what I was feeling, the end result was distrust. Because of how we spent the previous year, she couldn't comprehend that someone as "horrible" as me could actually be called to a religious life. She simply assumed I was sleeping with another woman.

I was a home wrecker. I wanted out of the relationship. I was using religion as an excuse because I wasn't man enough to say what I truly meant. These are the things she told me. I was so confused, both from understanding my calling and trying to make sense of the argument, she convinced me that I was making up an excuse. I started to feel horrible. I felt like a little kid who just broke a window playing baseball. I stood in the living room and let myself be yelled at.

I acted like a man who got caught fooling around. And in essence, that's really what I was doing, living with a woman who'd chosen not to divorce her previous husband, in spite of being separated. I was in a horrible situation from all aspects, and I built up a lot of guilt and shame.

During the next few weeks, things were rocky and cold in the apartment. We never slept in the same bed, we rarely talked anymore. Later on, she would describe the setting as "two roommates instead of two people in love."

January 13th, was a Sunday like most others (sorry for the cliche); she was absorbed in her video game while I was surfing the net, reading, and watching football. The reality of what was happening finally hit me: I was an adulterer - plain and simple. I decided to write down my thoughts here (referring to my old blog an a myspace account.) I wanted to find some sort of balance in my life between what was happening and what I felt in my heart. I wanted everything to make sense.

She, on the other hand, wanted to validate her feelings. And as the day progressed she chose that night to release her fury.

First she tried to prove I was cheating via myspace. I found this funny and showed her that I'd set up a second account to write about my vocation. Then she tried to use my job, saying that working late hours and never being home proved I was a cheater. I laughed at her again, reminding her I'd worked 11 hour days since we met, and that I was too tired or poor to fool around with another woman. Perhaps I laughed because I was fed up, or because I knew she was grasping at straws. (Looking back, I see it was my ego...eager to prove her wrong.)

Finally, she said I was using this whole "wanna be a priest thing" as a cover to go talk with another woman. It was an argument she'd used before, but I stopped laughing.

"I could have kept this to myself," I told her. "Wouldn't THAT have been the cowardly thing to do? To live together and for me not to share an important part of my life...isn't THAT living a lie?"

"I don't believe you," she replied. "You've been lying this entire time. You're just like every other man. You got what you wanted, now you want out. You can't even tell me to my face, you have to make some excuse."

"This is NOT some excuse. I spend my time away from work thinking about this. I feel happy thinking about it. In fact, I feel happier than I have in a long time."

She began to rant about how men were assholes, about how she didn't need anyone's help, about how she could take care of anything. As she talked, I asked God for the strength to get through the ordeal. I didn't know where I would live. I didn't know how I would survive. I didn't know how I could live with the guilt of what I was feeling, or the shame I would endure if I left. What I did know was that this "relationship" was nothing more than a hollow shell of a family...and to continue another day together would be destructive to everyone involved.

"My God wouldn't do this!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "I don't know what God you believe in, where you can hurt people and lie, but my God doesn't believe in that!"

"Does your God believe in letting married women screw around?" I thought. I'm not good with people who scream and yell, so I kept the thought to myself as she continued to yell.

As though she knew my thoughts, she found the way to piss me off:

"All those Catholic priests are f*cked up anyway!"

She could see the anger on my face, yet she knew that ever since we'd been together I'd never yelled at her. It wasn't in my nature. .

"Go ahead and say whatever you want! You won't leave. You don't have THE BALLS to leave me!"

She was absolutely right. In spite of the words she said to me, and the fact that this relationship was based on idealistic thoughts of love and passion rather than the reality of life, I still couldn't find enough courage to leave. Most men would brag how they'd never let their woman talk to them in this fashion. However I'd been the nice guy all my life - there was no place in my heart for the yelling and brute anger that she had towards me.

I tried to pray. I tried to ask for guidance. And in the end, I could only respond to the anger and screaming with serene words:

"If you don't need a man, if would rather think I'm a cheater, than good for you. If you don't need me, then I don't need to be here anymore."

She started to yell about how I was going to leave her with nothing. Most of the things in the house were mine, she'd be left without furniture, TV, computer, etc. In a calm voice, I responded: "You can have everything here. I'll take my clothes and an empty wallet."

As I collected my things, she remained quiet. I remember an old episode of CSI Miami playing on the TV. I remember feeling bad that her daughter had to be present during the exchange. I remember feeling again like a little kid who's in trouble. As I collected my things, she yelled at me "Don't walk around like your puppy just died!" but I didn't know what else to do. It was either that, or let my rage take over and rip her throat out with my bare hands.

After I'd finally gotten my things into the car, I left the key on the desk. In a calmer voice she still tried to sound firm: "That door only swings one way. If you walk through it, don't expect to come back."

They say that we have 5-6 truly life changing events in our lives. While we have events that affect us, there are only a few that really change who we are and how we perceive the world. I realized that I was standing at the crossroads of a great decision. One of them had the comfort of familiarity; I wasn't happy with my life, but I knew what would happen. I would be safe.

Down the other road lie the possibility of something wonderful happening, but I had no clue how I would survive. I'd just given up my apartment, all my things, and a year long commitment that I thought was the answer to my prayers. Life was so uncertain right now.

I grabbed my last bag, walked out of the apartment, and drove off in the snow.

"One Thing" by Finger Eleven played on the radio.

I smiled, as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Slowly, I drove to my mom's house.

That night I cried. I felt like a failure, and I had no clue what to do next. I slept on a sleeping bag that night instead of my lovely bed. I thanked God for having a roof over my head, for having a job to go to the next morning, and for having a family that would support me, even when I'd given up everything.

Little did I know that the relationship was not done. The next time I'd enter the apartment I'd be escorted by police. There was court, bill collectors, and the worst cleaning experience of my life.

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